Shropshire Star

Protests threatened as controversial arms fair moves to Telford

An arms fair is coming to Telford in the autumn after the controversial event has outgrown its previous home in Malvern.

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Protests outside the Three Counties Showground at a previous exhibition

The Telford International Centre is set to host the UK’s Specialist Defence and Security Convention (SDSC-UK) between November 1-2.

The event has been described by organisers as "the next stage in the evolution of the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE)", which for the last five years has been held at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern.

The expo attracted 130 exhibitors and 20 industry speakers in 2021, including BAE Systems, US Department of Defense and Strategic Command (UK StratCom), but has proved controversial.

Campaign group Three Counties CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) have protested the show over the last few years to try to get the event blocked form the Malvern showground.

Last year, organisers of the arms fair won an injunction against the group following direct action that took place in 2021.

Mike Davis of Three Counties CAAT, explained why the group is opposed to the arms exhibition.

He said: "When it first came to the Three Counties Showground we were told it was about equipping our police and armed forces with the best defence equipment possible and that there was a focus on cyber security.

"But when we looked closely at the exhibitors we found there were companies that specialise in offensive weapons such as rocket launchers and others in sniper rifles."

He added there were also exhibitors that were "implicated in civilian deaths in the civil war in Yemen" and others that supplied arms to countries such as Saudi Arabia.

"We felt this was not appropriate for the showground," he said.

Now that arms fair has moved to Telford, he said CAAT will be reaching out to similar-minded groups in the Shropshire area to see if they wish to protest against the event.

Organisers of SDSC-UK "categorically deny" the moving of the expo to Telford has anything to do with the protests.

A spokesperson said: "Fundamentally, we encourage freedom of speech so the protestors are more than welcome to come and protest but I can categorically deny it had anything to do with the move to Telford. We've outgrown the Showground and Telford has the space we need and the right transport links."

Richard Morgan, President of SDSC-UK, added: “For the past five years we have proudly provided a forum for members of the defence and security community to come together and share knowledge that is so vital to the defence of this country.

"We couldn’t be more pleased to extend the reach of this forum, ensuring every region, not just the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, benefits.”

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